NEW YORK—As Japan suffers the terrible aftermath of an earthquake that shook the nation on March 11, New Yorkers reach out a helping hand.
Countless benefits and creative ways to raise money have swept the city over the last few weeks. Politicians, bakers, fashion designers, and New Yorkers of every walk of life have put their skills and influence to good use in a compassionate and monumental effort.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced last week that city employees can choose to donate part of their paycheck to relief efforts in Japan. The automatic payroll deduction goes directly to reputable aid organizations and makes it easier for city employees to donate. A similar program raised $2.2 million for Haiti relief.
Citizens can also donate to the mayor's fund online , choosing the earthquake and tsunami relief option.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer raised $20,000 at his "New Yorkers for Japan" benefit on March 31. The Japanese American Association received $200,000 in individual donations—that's just from volunteers standing on the streets and collecting $5 here, $10 there, says Michiyo Noda of JAA ( Japanese American Association).
Noda, who was in Japan during the earthquake, but now stands at Grand Central Station to collect money for the Japanese American Association, is warmed by New Yorkers' sympathy.
“Many New Yorkers worry about Japan and [are] supporting us. They say to us 'God bless you,' and give us moral support,” said Noda.
Support has come in diverse forms from this diverse city.
Fashion Girls for Japan united 104 designers, putting together 91 racks of clothing plus accessories. The clothes were sold at The Bowery Hotel on April 2 and 3 at 50 percent of retail prices, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Japan. Sales totaled $270,000.
New York's bakeries, delis, and fine-dining hot spots banded together to cook up some support. From March 23 to March 30, 61 restaurants across the city donated up to five percent of their sales.
Imagining himself in their shoes, business freelance writer Jason Kelly started up a campaign to send new socks to many Japanese who fled their homes barefoot, or whose feet have been wet and cold in a disaster zone. Many Japanese have requested socks, an article often overlooked in relief supplies.
“All human beings are comforted by a fresh, clean pair of socks,” writes Kelly. Along with each pair of socks, New Yorkers are sending messages of hope and encouragement.